My brother and I started visiting assisted living homes for our parents, 80 and 85.
Dad falls once or twice a month now and can’t get up. The local firefighters have to come and get him upright.
My mom forgets things. She gets confused. Making a sandwich these days is a challenge. She forgets to turn the burner off when cooking.
They live independently right now in the mountains, three hours away in Arnold.
Snow is coming. We need to get them out before winter, but they don’t want to leave.
Dad is especially adamant. “I’m going to die soon anyway. Just leave us alone. We’re fine.”
We want to move them before something does happen to dad, so mom will have friends and caregivers to look out for her. We want them to be closer to us, so we can visit them more often and they can see their grandchildren.
My brother and I visited several assisted living homes in San Ramon and Danville these past few weeks.
My friend Charles advised me to be careful about the larger homes. They tend to escalate fees. They charge $2,500 or more a month per parent but tack on added fees for everything from medication management to answering a parent’s call late at night.
The smaller homes, we’ve discovered, offer all these services for one, flat rate. Plus they’re homier, less institutional.
Another friend, who used to own a small, assisted living facility, said a lot of his residents came from larger homes that had nickel-and-dimed them up the yin yang.
I’m grateful to these friends for guiding us in this most daunting and heart-wrenching task.
But no one so far can adequately help us with the hardest part of this ordeal: How do we get our parents to agree to move?
Some say lie. Tell them it’s just for the winter or that it’s just for rehabilitation. That seems wrong.
But telling the truth doesn’t seem right either. “Look, you guys can’t take care of yourselves anymore.” No, that could never be said.
Thankfully for me, it’s my brother who gets to have this most delicate conversation. I trust he’ll find the right words when the time comes… tomorrow.
Lately, we’ve been taking turns transporting our parents to doctor appointments they’ve stopped making for themselves.
Each trip requires we take a day off work. And they need more and more doctor appointments.
We started visiting potential homes for them a few weeks ago. The first home in Danville was a larger facility. Beautiful, like a four-star hotel.
As we walked through the door, an elderly woman, who looked about 100 years old, sat hunched over in a chair, staring blankly. We smiled, said hi. No response.
I tried to imagine how my parents might feel walking through those doors. Will they see it as a prison?
Will they hate us for moving them there?
Assisted living homes provide regular meals, safety, transportation to doctors, the promise of socialization and activities.
But will our parents appreciate these benefits? Or will they feel like unwanted toys left in a box by the curb?
Even if we can miraculously convince our parents to move, the sticker shock alone might kill them.
It will cost between $5,000 and $6,000 a month to keep my parents safe. To pay for that, we’ll have to rent out the home they live in now (presuming they’ll agree to that) or sell it (if they can in a down market) and take a steep loss.
On the bright side, a few of the elderly people we met in these homes seemed downright chipper.
We met a woman who declared, “I’m 100 years old. I was born the same age as Hitler and I’m having a hard time with that.”
When I’m 100, I hope I end up with someone like her as my roomie.